Prior to owning a Bengal, all I had known about grooming cats was that they shed incessantly, constantly choked up hair balls, and covered every possible surface with a thick layer of fur.
Visiting friends who owned cats required a bit of foresight: I knew never to wear black, or anything that might attract even more fur onto my person. One friend, whose family was famous for owning twenty cats, generously provided guests with lint rollers by the door.
All in all, most cats are notorious for shedding – but not every cat.
Oh, Bengals. What would our lives be like without them? Troublemakers though they are, Bengals have one clear advantage over many other breeds of cat: their shedding is almost nonexistent.
Bengal owners take pride in our feline friends and their almost complete lack of shedding, which can be immensely frustrating when trying to keep a clean house.
There are some misconceptions about Bengals cat shedding, however, that I will debunk and explain. After all, no cat is perfect (though a case could be made for Bengals)!
So…Do Bengals Shed?
Answering this question is tricky. The simple answer is yes and no – they do lose a small amount of hair, but it is nowhere near as much as other breeds.
Some Bengal breeders claim that their kittens won’t shed at all, but this simply isn’t true. Bengal kittens in particular do indeed shed, but this is mostly a matter of them losing their “baby fur” as they reach maturity.
Once a Bengal is fully grown, her coat is silky smooth and unlikely to shed, but she will lose some hair along the way.
So, by the standard of a typical cat owner, Bengals might not seem to shed at all – but they are by no means a Sphynx (hairless) cat. Any owner should expect a small amount of hair loss, though it should be minimal and sparse.
There are circumstances under which a Bengal might lose hair at a slightly faster rate than is usual – keep reading to learn all about these.
Why Do Bengals Sometimes Shed?
There are many reasons why a Bengal might shed – though you may hardly notice the hair loss at all, it is worth equipping yourself with the knowledge of why it might happen.
They’re Growing Up
As previously mentioned, the most common instance of Bengals shedding is during the final stages of their development, when they officially move from kitten to cat. This occurs at around seven to nine months of age, right when most cats reach sexual maturity.
This shedding is caused by the growth of a Bengal’s new adult coat, which takes the place of her fuzzy “kitten” coat. The result is a silky, sleek coat of fur that is like a pelt.
There are other factors that contribute to a Bengal shedding, including stress.
Aside from regular kitten fur being shed, this is by far the largest contributor to a Bengal shedding. Cats can become stressed and anxious for any number of reasons.
For example, moving to a new house or apartment can deeply disturb your Bengal until she becomes accustomed to her new environment. Introducing a new kitten or puppy into your household is another common cause of stress, which would lead your Bengal to shed.
Even something as benign as a loud thunderstorm can truly freak your Bengal out – humans lose hair when we are scared, too!
If your Bengal is shedding due to stress, you might notice her develop bald patches on her coat. This is how you can tell that stress is the cause of her hair loss; anxious cats tend to overgroom themselves to the point of baldness.
If I notice one of my Bengals aggressively grooming himself, I find it helpful to reflect on any recent changes to their lifestyle and routine.
If you live in a cold climate with any type of furry pet, you are probably all too familiar with the process of seasonal shedding.
As winter turns to spring and eventually summer, most furry pets start to lose hair at a rapid rate to account for the change in temperature.
Once fall and winter roll around and things start to cool off, these animals will grow their “winter coat” back, and the process repeats the following year.
Bengals are usually the exception to this rule. Many mammals have two layers of fur, an undercoat (also known as a ground coat) and a topcoat (called guard hair), making them more prone to seasonal shedding.
Because Bengals only have one layer of fur, they tend to keep their coat the same all year round – though this can depend on the climate you live in.
Bengal owners who live in northern parts of the world, where seasonal change swings dramatically between hot summers and freezing winters, will probably notice a fair amount of shedding once temperatures rise.
If you live closer to the equator, in the sunny south like yours truly, seasonal shedding is practically nonexistent. You might observe some hair loss, but not much.
A Bengal’s food is the only way she receives any amount of nutrition, so it is entirely up to her owner to make sure she will be properly fed.
If your Bengal doesn’t receive adequate nutrition from her diet, her coat can suffer for it, and she will likely start to shed.
Cats as a species are obligate carnivores, so make sure that anything you give your Bengal is high in protein, minimally processed, and contains the appropriate vitamins and minerals needed for healthy development.
If you think your Bengal could be eating better, it is worth discussing with your vet how best to give her the nutrition she needs.
There are many online guides that are specific to Bengals about what to feed these magnificent cats, and what to avoid at all costs. If her coat always looks silky and healthy, you are doing something right! After all, a healthy cat is a happy cat.
Other Factors That Might Contribute to Shedding
Though I have outlined the most obvious reasons a Bengal might shed, there are other circumstances to consider if none of these seem to fit the bill.
Underlying health problems often manifest in the form of excess shedding, so monitoring your Bengal’s hair loss is key to keeping her happy and healthy.
Bengals can’t exactly tell us when they are in discomfort or pain, so it is up to us as owners to keep track of their health.
In fact, many cats try to hide their pain – showing pain in the wild would be a death sentence for their wild ancestors. Make sure to schedule regular visits to the vet, especially if you notice an excess of shedding or other concerning behavior.
Are Bengals Hypoallergenic?
In short, not really.
This is one of the main questions that potential Bengal owners seek to answer when considering adoption.
The reason that some people claim that Bengals are hypoallergenic is because they are far less likely to cause an allergic reaction.
You might be wondering what exactly causes cat allergies: many people are under the impression that cat fur is the culprit. In truth, what people react to is cat dander, not fur.
Dander is tiny particles of dead skin that cats naturally shed, which can carry two allergens known as Fel d 1 and Fel d 4. When a cat grooms herself, she cleans off hair that carries dander, spreading it around the house and thus into the respiratory systems of nearby humans.
About 10 percent of the US population is allergic to cats – that’s twice the amount of people that have dog allergies.
This tragic allergy is all too common, prompting people to seek out cats that won’t cause these poor people discomfort. Enter the Bengal: the (practically) hypoallergenic cat. A hypoallergenic cat is a pet owner’s dream – no more hiding the cat away when someone who is allergic stops by to visit.
Unfortunately, no cat is truly hypoallergenic; some are simply less likely to elicit an allergic reaction. Bengals are one such cat, due to their limited amount of shedding.
Some people have no reaction whatsoever to Bengals, others might have mild symptoms, and others still can react poorly to the presence of a Bengal. It all depends on the individual person, and the individual cat.
The reason I first wanted to adopt a Bengal is because I’d heard tell of their (almost) hypoallergenic status. All my life I wanted to have a cat of my very own, but my brother and mother are both terribly allergic.
My once squashed dreams were finally revived when I learned of Bengals.
I took the chance of adopting two sweet Bengal kittens, hoping that I could actually have my own cats. I introduced Charlie and Winston to my family, and the rest is history.
My mom and brother sometimes have extremely mild symptoms, but nothing that would stop them from hanging out with my lovely Bengals. My brother can even cuddle with them!
For two people who are severely allergic to cats (and I mean severely, their throats will close up almost immediately), they can tolerate Bengals remarkably well.
That doesn’t mean everyone can. If you are allergic to cats and want to adopt a Bengal, it is best to visit a Bengal cattery before committing to a kitten in order to make sure you are comfortable around them. Mild symptoms can be managed with allergy medication and grooming, including brushing and vacuuming regularly. If you can keep a Bengal’s minimal shedding under control, you are probably safe to adopt one.
How to Groom a Bengal
For the most part, you don’t have to worry too much about grooming your Bengal. They handle 95% of it on their own, and the other 5% can be dealt with by investing in a gentle fur brush. In addition, Bengals are famous for loving water, so it shouldn’t be all that difficult to coax your cat into the occasional bath.
Always make sure to brush your Bengal with great care. Because their fur doesn’t fall out easily, overgrooming can hurt your Bengal’s skin, so only brush her if you notice a good amount of fur falling out. She can handle grooming herself for the most part – some owners just like the bonding that grooming provides.
Another aspect of grooming is regularly checking your Bengal for fleas and ticks. This ties into good medical care, because these parasites can cause disease and discomfort. Ensuring that your Bengal is free of any nasty mites is one of the more important parts of grooming her. Fortunately, Bengal owners have the luck of the draw when it comes to grooming; we hardly have to think about it at all.
Conclusion – All Animals Shed; Bengals Just Shed a Bit Less
Which isn’t to say other pets aren’t wonderful, they just require a little more attention to detail when it comes to fur maintenance. Bengals provide the perfect middle ground for pet owners who want a mammalian pet, but don’t want to deal with all of the work that comes with shedding. Constantly grooming and vacuuming up after a long haired cat can be frustrating, especially if you have a large house or multiple pets.
While there is no such thing as a cat that leaves zero trace of its presence in the form of fur, Bengals sure come close. Their soft and silky coats are easy to maintain without intensive grooming – or any grooming at all – and you are unlikely to find hairballs under the bed as a Bengal owner, which is just one of their many wonderful qualities. Do you own a Bengal, and if so, what is your experience with your cat shedding? If you don’t own a Bengal but are considering one, is it because they don’t shed a lot? Leave a comment below!